Halloween is exciting! Costumes, parties, trick-or-treating, and of course, CANDY! Parents love to see their children get caught up in the excitement, but some worry about the sugar overload and want to create a healthier experience for their children (not to mention, figure out what to do with that massive amount of candy). There are a lot of messages out there – most telling us we’re doing it wrong and ruining our kids, but trust me, you’re not. Halloween is a relatively short amount of time in comparison to the rest of the year, so as long as you provide healthy snacks and meals the majority of the year, there is no need to worry. Plus, if we want our kids to eat balanced meals and veggies, we need things like chips and candy to be less appealing. So let them indulge for one night and don’t make a big deal out of it. Trust me, if you tell them they can only eat 10 pieces of candy – they will make sure to eat to that amount (or more) and some kids will sneak or hide it and this is not behavior you want to promote. Instead, feed your child a good meal before trick-or-treating. Choose something with a good amount of protein, fiber and fat. This will fill them up and keep their blood sugar stable, so they won’t try to fill the hunger void with candy. Something like chili or beef stew will do the trick. Then, when you get home, let them sort their candy. That’s just as fun as getting the candy in the first place. Put it into “favorites” and “not favorites” piles. This teaches them that we don’t have to eat things just because they are available. Then let them place their “not favorites” in a “magic box” or bag before they go to bed, and then trade it out for a toy or art supplies the next day. They will love anticipating what they might get, and you’ll get rid of 50% of the candy the first night.
April Sorensen, RDN